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The Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden of İstanbul University, which is one of Turkey’s two arboretums registered in the list of international botanical gardens, has been handed over to the office of the mufti, a local office of an Islamic legal expert working under the Presidency of Religion Affairs (Diyanet).
An arboretum with over 3000 plant species, the Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden was created in 1935 with the participation of Prof. Alfred Heilbronn and Prof. Leo Brauner, who had been personally invited by the founding president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
In reaction to the new regulation, Fazıl Uğur Soylu, main opposition CHP’s executive member from İstanbul’s Fatih district – where the garden is located -, wrote an official letter to the communication office of the Prime Ministry questioning the reason behind the move.
A response sent to Soylu from the Directorate General of National Property stated the area at stake ‘has been allocated as a site to be used for the services of the office of the mufti’.
Criticizing the response of the Directorate by asking ‘what the mufti could possibly use the area for’, CHP’s executive member Soylu told BirGün that his party will be monitoring and following up with this process.
'Is the administration trying to create an office of Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman times?', the CHP executive said, questioning the motive behind the move.
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